Nottingham Forest Under 21s coach Jimmy Gilligan admits his side’s play-off defeat was ‘heartbreaking’, but is nevertheless ‘very proud’ of this season’s achievements.Gilligan led the team to the league title to set up Wednesday’s play-off semi-final against Swansea at The City Ground.
The Reds were beaten on penalties after a thrilling affair and, while it was a sad end to the campaign, Gilligan refused to let it overshadow his side’s fantastic work this season.
He told Forest Player: “Obviously when you get to a semi-final stage, you want to go on and win the final.
“It was heartbreak really – going from 2-0 up to 2-2 in the 93rd minute and then having to play extra time...I think it was a little bit disheartening for the boys.
“But the game showed the resilience and character that I’ve talked about. When we went into extra time, went 3-2 down and pulled it back to 3-3 with three minutes to go it says everything about the players.
“You’ve got to give them great credit – they’ve been absolutely fantastic. They took a Premier League outfit all the way and I’m very proud of them.”
With the season now over, Forest’s Under 21s players have been sent away with their training ahead of the next campaign.
And Gilligan is now able to fully reflect on the season gone by.
He said: “It’s great to have won the league, it’s great to have got into the semi-finals of the play-offs.
“But to see Tyler Walker score at Brentford, to see Jorge Grant do the same at Tottenham, to see Oliver Burke make his debut at Blackpool and then to have Roger Riera, your captain, on the bench against Cardiff City – that’s the end game, and I’ve told the players that.”
Click here to watch the full interview on Forest Player, and here for highlights of The Reds’ play-off match against Swansea.